periphrasis (and its types), hyperbole, understatement, irony, zeugma, and pun

MadinaKuntayeva 2012 M11 12

“Periphrasis is the renaming of an object by a phrase that brings out some particular feature of the object.”For example, Jean nodded without turning and slid between two buses so that two drivers...

“Periphrasis is the renaming of an object by a phrase that brings out some particular feature of the object.”For example, Jean nodded without turning and slid between two buses so that two drivers simultaneously used the same qualitative word. (H. G. Wells) The essence of the device is that it is decipherable only in context. If a Periphrasis is understandable outside the context it is not a Stylistic Device and it is called traditional, dictionary or language periphrasis. Here are some examples of well-known English periphrases: “my better half” (my wife), “a gentleman of the long robe” (a lower).

I. Galperin distinguishes two types of Periphrasis: logical and figurative.“Logical Periphrasis is based of one of inherent properties or a passing feature of the object described as in “instruments of obstruction” (=pistols), “the most pardonable of human weakness” (=love). Figurative Periphrasis is based either on Metaphor or Metonymy, the key-word of the collocation is the word that used figuratively” as in the his neck over flowed his collar and there had recently been published a second edition of his chin (P.G. Wodehouse).


Hyperbole - a stylistic device in which emphasis is achieved through deliberate exaggeration,relies on the foregrounding of the emotive meaning. Hyperbole -one of the most common expressive means of our everyday speech. When we describe our admiration or anger and say "a hundred times" - we use trite language hyperboles, which through long and repeated use, have lost their originality and remained signals of the speaker's roused emotions.

Hyperbole may be the final effect of another SD - metaphor, simile, irony, as we have in the cases "The man was like the Rock of Gibraltar". Hyperbole can be expressed by all notional parts of speech. Words though which styl. device are used more often "all", ''every", "everybody". "Calpurnia was all angles and bones"; also numerical nouns ("a million", "a thousand"), as was shown above; and adverbs of time ("ever", "never").Was stressed the importance of both communicants clearly perceiving that the exaggeration, used by one of them is intended as such and serves not to denote actual quality or quantity but signals the emotional background of the utterance. If this reciprocal understanding of the intentional nature of the overstatement is absent, hyperbole turns into a mere lie. Hyperbole is aimed at exaggerating quantity or quality. When it is directed the opposite way, when the size, shape, dimensions, characteristic features of the object are hot overrated, but intentionally underrated, we deal with understatement. The mechanism of its creation and functioning is identical with that of H., and it does not signify the actual state' of affairs in reality, but presents the latter through the emotionally coloured perception and rendering of the speaker. It is not the actual diminishing or growing of the object that is conveyed by a H. or Understatement. They differ only in the direction of the flow of roused emotions. English is well known for its preference for understatement in everyday speech - "I am rather annoyed" instead of "I'm infuriated”.


Irony is such a case of interaction between logical and contextual logical meanings when the contextual logical meaning of the word becomes the opposite of its logical meaning.


In most cases the sentence suffices to make irony clear. In certain cases, though, a much wider context is needed to understand that the word is used ironically and to perceive its stylistic effect.


Irony may be expressed by any part of speech, most often by a noun, adjective and adverb.


The effect of irony largely depends on the unexpectedness and seeming lack of logic of a word used by the author in an incompatible context. The reader is fully aware of the contrast between what is logically expected and what is said. This contrast, this interaction of the contextual logical and logical meanings of the word often produces a humorous effect.


Irony may be used to achieve an effect of bitter mockery and sarcasm as well, especially when it concerns some social phenomena.

In another example, suppose an employee says to his boss in a large meeting with all his co-workers:

Sir, may I say you are as smart as Einstein ever was.

But now consider that everyone in the room - except the boss - knows that the employee has a dog named Einstein, and that dog was the real intent of of the employee's named reference. This would be exquisitely ironic, because the boss would truly believe the employee's statement to be high praise, whereas everyone else would understand the statement for the ribald insult it was meant to be.

Zeugma is the use of a word in the same grammatical but different semantic relations to two adjacent words in the context, the semantic relations being, on the one hand, literal, and, on the other, transferred. "Dora, plunging at once into privileged intimacy and into the middle of the room". (B. Shaw) 'To plunge' (into the middle of a room) materializes the meaning 'to rush into' or 'enter impetuously'. Here it is used in its concrete, primary, literal meaning; in 'to plunge into privileged intimacy' the word 'plunge' is used in its derivative meaning. The same can be said of the use of the verbs 'stain' and lose' in the following lines from Pope's "The Rape of the Lock": "...Whether the Nymph Shall stain her Honour or her new Brocade Or lose her Heart or necklace at a Ball." This stylistic device is particularly favoured in English emotive prose and in poetry. The revival of the original meanings of words must be regarded as an essential quality of any work in the belles-lettres style. A good writer always keeps the chief meanings of words from fading away, provided the meanings are worth being kept fresh and vigorous. Zeugma is' a strong and effective device to maintain the purity of the primary meaning when the two meanings clash. By making the two meanings conspicuous in this particular way, each of them stands out clearly. The structure of zeugma may present variations from the patterns given above. Thus in the sentence:. "...And May's mother always stood on her gentility, and Dot's mother never stood on anything but her active little feet" (Dickens) The word 'stood' is used twice. This structural variant of zeugma, though producing some slight difference in meaning, does not violate the principle of the stylistic device. It still makes the reader realize that the two meanings of the word 'stand' are simultaneously expressed, one primary and the other derivative.

The pun IS another stylistic device based on the interaction of two well-known meanings of a word or phrase. It is difficult do draw a hard and fast distinction between zeugma and the pun. The only reliable distinguishing feature is a structural one: zeugma is the realization of two meanings with the help of a verb which is made to refer to different subjects or objects (direct or indirect). The pun is more independent. There need not necessarily be a word in the sentence to which the pun-word refers. This does not mean, however, that the pun is entirely free. Like any other stylistic device, it must depend on a context. But the context may be of a more expanded character, sometimes even as large as a whole work of emotive prose. Thus the title of one of Oscar Wilde's plays, "The Importance of Being Earnest" has a pun in it, inasmuch as the name of the hero and the adjective meaning 'seriously-minded' are both present in our mind. Here is another example of a pun where a larger context for its realization is used: "'Bow to the board," said Bumble. Oliver brushed away two or three tears that were lingering in his eyes; and seeing'-no board but the table, fortunately bowed to that'. (Dickens) In fact, the humorous effect is caused by the interplay not of two meanings of one word, but of two words. 'Board' as a group of officials with functions of administration and management and 'board' as a piece of furniture (a table) have become two distinct words. Puns are often used in riddles and jokes, for example, in this riddle: What is the difference between a schoolmaster and an engine-driver? (One trains the mind and the other minds the train.) Devices of simultaneously realizing the various meanings of words, which are of a more subtle character than those embodied in puns and zeugma, are to be found in poetry and poetical descriptions and in spe- , culations in emotive prose. Men-of-letters are especially sensitive to the nuances of meaning embodied in almost every common word, and to make these words live with their multifarious semantic aspects is the task of a good writer. Those who can do it easily are said to have talent. In this respect it is worth subjecting to stylistic analysis words ordinarily perceived in their primary meaning but which in poetic diction begin to acquire some additional, contextual meaning. This latter meaning sometimes overshadows the primary meaning and it may, in the course of time, cease to denote the primary meaning, the derived mean-ing establishing itself as t:he most recognizable one.


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